Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day


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Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.



September 20th, 2015

Episode 325 of 689 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 20, 2015 is: peruse \puh-ROOZ\ verb 1 a : to examine or consider with attention and in detail : study b : to look over or through in a casual or cursory manner 2 : read; especially : to read over in an attentive or leisurely manner Examples: Dmitri perused the menu while we waited for a table. "She comes about five days a week, does Internet research for her online business management classes and peruses the bookstore run by the Friends of the Library." Greg Mellen, The Orange County (California) Register, 13 Aug. 2015 Did you know? Peruse has long been a literary word, used by such famous authors as Shakespeare, Tennyson, and Thomas Hardy, and it tends to have a literary flavor even in our time. Peruse can suggest paying close attention to something, but it can also simply mean "to read." The "read" sense, which is not especially new and was in fact included in Samuel Johnson's 1755 dictionary, has drawn some criticism over the years for being too broad. Some commentators have recommended that peruse be reserved for reading with great care and attention to detail. But the fact remains that peruse is often used in situations where a simple "read" definition could be easily substituted. It may suggest either an attentive read or a quick scan.

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